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Play Zone: Northwest Arena Receives State Funding

A conceptual drawing of children playing in the “The Zone,” which will be an interactive play space for children located inside the new addition at Northwest Arena. Submitted photo

The proposed interactive play space for children ages 2-12 has received state funding.

On Monday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the awarding of $81 million to 97 projects statewide, which included $450,00 for “The Zone” project that will be located at Northwest Arena. The Zone will be a new indoor activities venue for children in downtown Jamestown that will utilize underused space in Northwest Arena to create a new center focused on technology and play, encouraging kids to explore STEAM principles through physical activity.

“We were very excited and appreciative to learn that we have received a significant (Empire State Development) grant from the state of New York,” said Keith Martin, Northwest Arena executive director. “This is extremely important to the completion of TheZone, a project that will greatly benefit the children in our community.”

In August, arena officials kicked off its $4 million fundraising campaign to create the new community asset that offers an engaging sports-themed experience that encourages the development of physical skills and mental stimulation through indoor, year-round play. Donations are being sought from individuals, corporations and foundations. To donate to The Zone project, visit funatthezone.org. Once the fundraising goal has been met, it will take four months for the exhibits to be manufactured and installed, with The Zone scheduled to open during the summer of 2022.

Jack Rouse Associates and Cortina Productions, who also worked on the National Comedy Center, will work on the exhibits at The Zone. Arena officials will be working closely with youth organizations in the area to provide children access once The Zone is opened. In the free play area, children will be able to play all kinds of different sports and games, and there is even an overhead jumbotron that will show instant replays. The area will also include STEAM and STEM educational learning activities. The Zone will also include a toddler bullpen for infants.

Children will also be given an RFID chip to record each experience they have at The Zone, so they know when they’ve hit a personal best score.

Through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative, $150 million in grant funds from Empire State Development was made available on a continuous and competitive basis to support the immediate needs of applicants. Additionally, projects within each region are eligible for a share of $75 million in Excelsior Jobs Program Tax Credits to help attract and grow business in their region.

“The pandemic toll touched every corner of the state and every sector of New York’s economy, and as a result we must ensure that our recovery does the same,” Hochul said. “As we move forward from the pandemic we are using the rolling grant process to build New York State back better by supporting shovel-ready projects with the potential to accelerate new investments and catalyze economic growth in every community.”

The application for grant funds remains open and applications are being reviewed on an ongoing basis until funds are exhausted. Applicants with strong, shovel-ready projects that align with the state and region’s economic development priorities can apply through the Consolidated Funding Application.

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